Illustration of a variety of cocktail glasses with sparkling wine and soda water

15 Best European Wine Cocktails for Summer

As summer approaches, quench your thirst with our top picks for the best European wine cocktails for summer. Learn how to easily concoct the ideal Aperol Spritz, Kir Royale, or Sangria, bringing the vibrant tastes of a European summer directly to your glass.

Key Takeaways

  • European wine cocktails offer an exciting variety, including Italian Spritzes, French classics like Kir Royale, and Spanish favorites like Sangria.

  • Each cocktail has its own unique blend of regional wines and other ingredients, with options for customization like different fruit garnishes and mixers.

  • Wine-based cocktails are not just about mixing; the right glassware, understanding of flavor profiles, and beautiful garnishes play a huge role in enhancing the experience.

Spritz Sensations

Illustration of a variety of cocktail glasses with sparkling wine and soda water

The spritz cocktail hails from the beautiful Veneto region of Italy. Picture Austrian soldiers in the late 1800s, adding a splash of water to local wines to dilute their strength, unknowingly kickstarting a cocktail legacy. With time, these humble beginnings evolved into a bubbly symphony of sparkling soda and prosecco, enhanced by the addition of fortified wines and liqueurs like Aperol and Campari. The result? A drink that’s as cooling as a Mediterranean breeze and as vibrant as an Italian sunset.

Here’s a fun fact for you: the traditional Italian Spritz adheres to a specific ratio. It’s a harmonious blend of 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts bitter liqueur, and 1 part soda water. The bitter liqueurs of choice are often Aperol and Campari, providing the drink with its signature bitter taste. Next, we’ll explore the world of Spritz variations: the Aperol Spritz, Campari Spritz, and Hugo.

Aperol Spritz

Nothing says summer in Italy quite like a glass of the classic Aperol Spritz. This quintessential summer drink is as easy to make as it is to sip, thanks to its simple recipe that calls for Prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. The key to the best Aperol Spritz lies in the Prosecco. Opt for a brut Prosecco to achieve the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

So, grab your cocktail glasses and transport yourself to a sun-drenched Italian terrace with every sip!

Campari Spritz

If you’re a fan of bolder flavors, then meet the Aperol Spritz’s more daring cousin – the Campari Spritz. This cocktail is a harmonious blend of Campari, Prosecco, and seltzer, served in an ice-filled wine glass. The Campari lends it a vibrant red color and a blend of aromatic herbs and fruit, giving the cocktail its unique flavor profile.

But what sets the Campari Spritz apart from the Aperol Spritz? It’s all in the bitterness. The Campari Spritz has a stronger, more concentrated bitterness due to its higher alcohol content and fewer fruity notes. The cocktail is then garnished with a slice of fresh orange for a delightful citrusy finish.

Whether you’re serving it in large stemmed wine glasses or stemless cocktail glasses, the Campari Spritz is sure to add a bit of Italian charm to any summer gathering.


For something a bit different, let’s head north to the German-speaking Italian region of South Tyrol, where the Hugo cocktail was born in 2005. This light, low-alcohol cocktail is a thirst-quenching blend of elderflower cordial, Prosecco, and soda water, garnished with a twist of lime and a sprig of mint. If you fancy a stronger drink, you can add a splash of St. Germain, an elderflower-based liqueur, for an extra kick.

Whether you’re lounging by the pool or enjoying an al fresco dinner, the Hugo is the perfect companion for a lazy summer day.

French Sparkling Wine Cocktail Classics

Artistic representation of French wine cocktail classics

Leaving Italy behind, let’s wander through the vineyards of France, where elegance and tradition meet in every glass. French cocktails made with wine are renowned for their charm and social allure, often originating from esteemed French hotels and bars. These cocktails have marked countless celebrations and social occasions, becoming an integral part of French culture.

Next, we’ll explore the world of the Kir Royale, French 75, and Mimosa.

Kir Royale

Our first stop is the Kir Royale, a cocktail that carries a legacy dating back to the 1940s. Named after Félix Kir, a French priest who later became mayor, the cocktail was a clever way to utilize the ingredients available during a challenging time in the Burgundy region of France. The original Kir cocktail was a blend of white wine and crème de cassis, but the Kir Royale takes it up a notch by swapping white wine for Champagne.

Today, the Kir Royale serves as an elegant aperitif, typically prepared with a proportion of 1/2 ounce liqueur to 5-6 ounces of Champagne. But don’t be afraid to experiment! Variations of the classic Kir Royale have emerged, incorporating different fruit liqueurs, as well as fresh fruits, herbs, or bitters, offering unique twists to the established recipe.

French 75

Our next French classic, the French 75, is a dazzling blend of:

  • lemon juice

  • simple syrup

  • gin or cognac

  • Champagne

This french cocktail made its debut in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris and has been refining its charm ever since. The French 75 later crossed the Atlantic, making a name for itself as a signature drink at the famed Stork Club in New York.

But why the name ‘French 75’? It’s a salute to the 75mm M1897, a powerful and efficient light field gun used by the French army during World War I. Like its namesake, the French 75 packs a punch, making it an unforgettable addition to any summer gathering.


Our final French classic is the Mimosa, a timeless favorite for brunches and beyond. Popularized in the United States by British film director Alfred Hitchcock, the Mimosa is a simple yet satisfying blend of orange juice and sparkling wine. Traditionally prepared with equal parts of each, the Mimosa offers a canvas for creativity. Some variations you can try include:

  • Swapping regular orange juice for blood orange juice for a unique twist

  • Adding a splash of grenadine for a touch of sweetness

  • Garnishing with a slice of fresh orange or a sprig of mint for an extra pop of color and aromatics

Get creative and make the Mimosa your own!

The beauty of the Mimosa lies in its versatility. You can experiment with different juices, garnishes, and even the type of sparkling wine to suit your taste and the occasion. So, whether it’s a laid-back Sunday brunch or a celebratory toast, a Mimosa is always a good idea.

Spanish Wine Cocktails: Sangria & Beyond

Illustration of Spanish wine cocktails with fruits and soda water

Next, let’s head to Spain, a country known for its vibrant culture, sunny beaches, and delightful Summer drinks. One of the most popular is Sangria, a cocktail known for its versatility, allowing for various fruit flavors and mixers, depending on availability. Yet, Sangria is just the beginning. For a unique and refreshing topping or mixer, consider adding ginger beer to a Sangria variant like ‘Strawberry-Rum Coolers.’

Let’s explore the world of Sangria, Tinto de Verano, and Kalimotxo.


Sangria, a name that evokes images of sun-soaked terraces and lively fiestas, originated in Spain during the 15th century and quickly spread to Portugal and the Spanish colonies. It reached its peak popularity in Europe in the 19th century and was later introduced to North America at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The classic ingredients for Sangria include red wine from La Rioja, local brandy, and fruits like apples, lemons, oranges, grapes, and pears. The name ‘Sangria’ derives from the Spanish word for blood, ‘sangre’, a nod to the deep red color of the wine. However, Sangria is a chameleon of a cocktail, leading to variations like white or sparkling wine Sangria and Zurra, which includes peaches and apricots.

Today’s Sangria recipes are as diverse as the regions they come from, combining red, white, or cava wine with brandy and various fruits. The fruits are often marinated for several hours to enhance the flavor, creating a drink that’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Some popular fruits to include in Sangria are:

  • Oranges

  • Lemons

  • Limes

  • Apples

  • Peaches

  • Berries

Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite Sangria recipe!

So, whether you’re a fan of the classic recipe or looking to experiment, Sangria is a flavor journey worth embarking on.

Tinto de Verano

If you’re looking for something as relaxed as a Spanish summer, look no further than Tinto de Verano. This straightforward cocktail consists of red wine and lemon-lime soda, typically garnished with slices of orange and lemon. It’s ideal for casual summer gatherings, requiring no advance preparation and offering a lighter alternative to Sangria.

Yet, don’t let its simplicity fool you. Tinto de Verano can be easily adjusted for more complex tastes. One non-traditional variation involves substituting half of the red wine with sweet vermouth, adding an herbal note, and increasing the alcohol strength. Whether you stick to the original recipe or venture into new flavor territories, Tinto de Verano is a summer staple that never disappoints.


For those who love to try something different, we present the Kalimotxo. This unique cocktail hailing from Northern Spain and the Basque Country is a surprising yet delightful mix of red wine and Coca-Cola. Traditional recipes recommend mixing the soda and wine in a 50:50 ratio, served over ice, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon juice for that extra citrus kick.

The Kalimotxo is a testament to the creativity and spirit of Spanish cocktail culture, proving that sometimes, the most unexpected combinations can lead to the most delightful surprises.


This takes wine-based cocktails to the next level, making them a little more “grown-up” by mixing 2 cups of lemon-lime soda with 1 cup of Fino or Manzanilla sherry. Delectably dry fortified wine adds some added depth and complements the sweet soft drink fantastically.

Agua de Valencia

Like Sangria, this one packs a bit more of a boozy punch. Combine 3/4 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup sparkling white wine, 2 oz gin, and 2 oz vodka. Garnish with an orange slice.

German White Wine Cocktails: Riesling & Beyond

Artistic depiction of German wine cocktails featuring Riesling

Leaving the warm Spanish coast behind, let’s journey to Germany, a country celebrated for its beer but also home to some delightful wine-based cocktails. Many feature Riesling, a wine admired for its balance of sweetness and acidity.

Let’s delve into German wine-based cocktails featuring the Riesling Spritz, Weinschorle, and Summer Glühwein.

Riesling Spritz

The Riesling Spritz is a testament to the versatility of German Riesling wine. This light and fresh cocktail combines German Riesling wine with sparkling water, offering an invigorating beverage experience. The recipe calls for 3 ounces of chilled Riesling mixed with 1 ounce of cold club soda or mineral water.

To further enhance its flavor and visual appeal, the drink can be garnished with a lime wedge or orange peel. Whether you’re hosting a summer garden party or winding down after a long day, the Riesling Spritz is a choice that’s sure to impress.


Next on our German journey is the Weinschorle, a traditional German beverage that blends white wine and carbonated water. This cocktail can be made with either white or red wine, depending on your preference.

The best part about the Weinschorle is its flexibility. You can adjust the wine-to-water ratio to suit your individual taste, making it an accessible and customizable option for all.

Summer Glühwein

Our final stop in Germany is the Summer Glühwein, a seasonal twist on the traditional mulled wine that’s perfect for the warmer months. The classic Summer Glühwein is made with white wine, incorporating:

  • lemon juice

  • honey

  • sugar

  • fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

There’s also the Summer Feuerzangenbowle variant, which includes white wine, apple juice, fruits, and spices, with a unique addition of a rum-soaked sugar cone set ablaze to caramelize into the drink. Served chilled, Summer Glühwein offers a refreshing and unique option for those looking to enjoy a festive, spiced beverage during the warmer months.

Mediterranean Wine Cocktails: Greek & Portuguese Delights

Illustration of Mediterranean wine cocktails with fruits and herbs

Our final destination on this cocktail journey is the sunny Mediterranean, where the wine cocktails are as refreshing as the sea breeze. Drawing on local ingredients and traditions, these cocktails capture the spirit of the Mediterranean in every sip.

Let’s experience the flavors of the Vinho Verde Spritz and Retsina Lemonade.

Vinho Verde Spritz

First up is the Vinho Verde Spritz, a cocktail that harnesses the unique qualities of Portuguese Vinho Verde wines. This light and refreshing cocktail combines:

  • Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine

  • Elderflower liqueur

  • Bitter Bianco

  • Lemon syrup

It is topped with soda water and garnished with a lemon wheel, served over a few ice cubes, making it a refreshing drink with the perfect amount of ice cubes.

The Vinho Verde Spritz’s refreshing qualities make it a favored summer drink, perfect for sipping on warm days. The distinctive flavors of Portuguese Vinho Verde wines, characterized by their lightness and slight effervescence, enhance the cocktail’s refreshing quality.

Retsina Lemonade

Our final cocktail is the Retsina Lemonade, a unique blend of Greek Retsina wine and lemonade. Retsina is known for its distinctive resin flavor, which forms the signature component in Retsina Lemonade. This cocktail is crafted by mixing aromatic Retsina wine with lemonade and tonic water, creating a balanced and refreshing summer drink.

To enhance its flavor and visual appeal, a sprig of fresh rosemary and lemon peel serve as the optimal garnishes. Whether you’re lounging by the Mediterranean sea or hosting a summer garden party, Retsina Lemonade is a refreshing choice that’s sure to impress.

DIY Wine Cocktail Tips

Now that we’ve explored the diverse world of European wine cocktails, why not try creating your own? Making a successful at-home wine-based cocktail involves:

  • Understanding the flavors that complement your chosen spirits

  • Selecting the right glassware

  • Adding the perfect garnish to enhance the visual appeal and flavor of your cocktail

Let’s uncover some useful tips that will guide you in creating wine cocktails like a pro.

Wine Glassware Guide

The glass you use for your cocktail can significantly enhance the drinking experience. It can affect the temperature, aeration, and presentation of the drink, making it an important factor to consider when making wine cocktails.

Here are some examples of glassware and their recommended uses:

  • Flutes: ideal for sparkling wines as they preserve the bubbles and concentrate the aromas.

  • Wide-bowled glasses are better for red wines as they allow for aeration.

  • Tulip-shaped glasses: These are recommended for white wines to concentrate the delicate aromas.

Regarding wine cocktails with mixers and additional ingredients, such as a Spritz or Sangria, larger glasses like stemless or Balloon glass are preferred. These glasses can accommodate the added volume and allow for optimal flavor mixing.

Wine & Mixer Pairings

Choosing the right wine and mixer pairing can make all the difference. For example, the Portuguese enjoy a traditional aperitif made from white port and tonic water, combining sweetness with bitterness. Similarly, the Lambrusco Negroni offers a lighter take on the classic, utilizing the fruity Lambrusco wine to introduce a different taste profile.

The key to wine and mixer pairings is understanding the flavors of each component and how they complement each other. This can involve considering the sweetness, acidity, and body of the wine as well as the flavors of the mixer. So, whether you’re creating a refreshing wine, apple cider and orange cocktail, or orange wine mezcal cocktail, remember the importance of harmonious and balanced flavors.

Garnishing Your Creations

Garnishing your cocktails is like adding the final brushstroke to a masterpiece. It uplifts the visual appeal and enhances the flavor of your cocktail. For instance, a citrus peel twist is a simple and elegant way to garnish wine cocktails, adding both visual appeal and a hint of citrus aroma. If you’re making warm or spiced cocktails, using a cinnamon stick as a garnish can infuse them with a fragrant aroma.

Adding a chocolate rim to glasses can make a cocktail feel indulgent and enhance its flavor, especially for sweet or dessert-like drinks. On the other hand, dried orange slices can serve as a convenient garnish, providing a subtle flavor and an elegant finishing touch. Bright cocktail cherries can add a touch of retro charm and a hint of sweetness to a drink, while a rim coated with sugar or salt can look impressive and enhance a cocktail’s flavor profile.

Finally, don’t forget about the power of fresh ingredients. Here are some ideas for using fresh ingredients as garnishes in cocktails:

  • Fresh fruit garnishes can signal the flavors within a cocktail and add a burst of color.

  • Creating ribbons from vegetables or fruits, such as cucumber or rhubarb, can add an elegant touch to cocktails.

  • Fresh herbs like mint or rosemary can enhance both the aroma and the taste.

  • Edible flowers can serve as a decorative garnish, adding a splash of color to cocktails, especially when paired with herbs.

The Last Pour

From the Italian spritzes to the French classics, Spanish sangria to German Riesling cocktails and Mediterranean delights, we’ve journeyed through the diverse and delightful world of European wine cocktails. Each cocktail carries its own story, reflecting its origin’s traditions, tastes, and spirit. You can create your wine masterpieces with the right wine, the perfect mixer, and a garnish that adds that final touch. So, why not raise a glass to summer and let your taste buds travel through Europe with every sip?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Spritz cocktail?

A Spritz cocktail is a wine-based cocktail from Italy, usually made with Prosecco, a bitter liqueur like Aperol or Campari, and soda water. It’s a refreshing and popular drink.

How is a Kir Royale different from a classic Kir?

The Kir Royale differs from a classic Kir in that it uses Champagne instead of white wine, giving it an elevated twist on the original cocktail.

Some popular wine cocktails in Spain include Sangria, Tinto de Verano, and Kalimotxo. Try them for a taste of Spanish culture!

How can I enhance the flavor of my wine cocktail?

To enhance the flavor, try pairing the right wine and mixer and adding suitable garnishes. Cheers!

What is the importance of glassware in serving wine cocktails?

Using the right type of glass for serving wine cocktails can enhance the experience by impacting the temperature, aeration, and presentation of the drink. It’s important to choose the appropriate glassware for a better overall experience.

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